al Qaeda threat: Questionable origins?

By Douglas J. Hagmann

ansar1 February 2013: As I specifically mentioned on Coast to Coast AM with Georgy Noory this morning, the threat that appeared on the Ansar al Mujahidin web forum last Sunday should not be taken lightly. Nonetheless, it would be reasonable to question the source of the threat.  The posting that appeared on that well established forum threatened attacks that will be “strong, serious, alarming, earth-shattering and terrible.” The message stated that “[T]he coming strikes by al Qaeda, with God’s Might, will be in the heart of the land of non-belief, America, and in France, Denmark, other countries in Europe, in the countries that helped and are helping France, and in other places that shall be named by al Qaeda at other times.”

The Ansar al Mujahidin forum has carried previous threats and warnings, including a prominent threat to New York City last year. At least one other earlier threat posted on that site was ostensibly thwarted by “early” FBI intervention and infiltration. While Islamic terrorism remains a serious and legitimate threat, the manner in which this particular threat was posted, specifically the wording, message placement, timing, certain linguistic and other characteristics of the message and poster raise questions of its authenticity and legitimacy as being posted by a bona-fide operative of al Qaeda. The message, appearing in a prominent area of the forum, appeared to be posted for immediate and easy discovery by the most casual visitor to this well known message board. The wording of this threat also appears inconsistent with established Arabic language posters focused on support of the various al Qaeda factions operating in Africa, including but not limited to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Taken at face value, the threat appears to indicate that Islamic terrorists intend to strike deep inside the United States as lone operatives with perhaps some degree of coordination. The threat further indicates their intent to strike “soft targets,” which one could extrapolate as shopping centers, sporting events or even schools. The use of “VBIEDs” or car bombs is also indicated.  However, the threat lacked certain characteristics (and contained others) that creates questions about its origin - and intent.  Given the current social and political climate in the United States, it is not unreasonable to view the posting and subsequent responses with a certain level of suspicion - and concern.